TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady says the real football begins after Thanksgiving. His emphasis has produced results. Brady has a 66-16 career record in December. He said success is based on the team coming together at the right time.
"Over the course of a long season, I think everything kind of shows itself. I think the work ethic of the team and the commitment to getting better, the camaraderie," Brady said after Thursday's practice. "Some of those things don’t show up in the first four weeks of the season. It’s always about the team committing to each other and the teammates that care about one another and consistently doing the right thing."
Brady's 30 touchdown passes lead the NFL, but that's thanks in large part to an offensive line that's allowed 15 sacks this season, tied for lowest in the league.
"When the offensive line’s not getting noticed, that’s always a good thing," joked offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. "I think it all starts there with us. It started there with us last year, run game, pass game. It’ll start there for us this year, run game, pass game. They’ve been the most consistent group, really, all year."
Despite his MVP level of play, Brady's not interested in talking about the fact that he's doing it at age 44.
"I love the competition. I love the sport. I that what gets harder when you get older is you’re not 25, so there’s a lot of other important things, too," said before starting to laugh. "I’m having a great time. I don’t want to start talking about retirement."
The Bucs (8-3) lead the Falcons (5-6) and the Saints (5-6) in the NFC South, so a win Sunday against the Falcons would go a long way for a team looking for its first division title since 2007.
"We’ve got four division games coming up. We didn’t do so good the last division game on the road, so we gotta take care of business," Brady added. "It’s gonna be a big challenge and hopefully we can go meet it."
Tampa Bay kicks off against the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday at 1 p.m.